It's the summer of 1973, and a young film director goes searching for a studio to distribute his new screenplay. Many say no, until one finally agrees to take a chance on him. Twentieth Century Fox has such little faith anyone will actually pay to see the movie that it agrees to give him - in exchange for the usual directing fee - 40% of the box office, plus sequel, publishing and merchandising rights.
Fast forward to 1977: the feature opens in a limited run at 32 theatres. Surprisingly, people show up?and like what they see. In a few days, it expands to more than 200 screens, and lines start forming around the block. The sci-fi adventure eventually becomes the highest grossing movie in history.
Earlier this year, nearly 28 years to the day since the debut of "Star Wars," the sixth and final installment of George Lucas' blockbuster series - "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" - premiered at hundreds of theatres worldwide. Forbes magazine recently ranked Lucas as the 60th richest American, with a net worth of $3 billion. How much less money would he have today if Fox simply had paid him that director's fee? While they focused on mitigating losses, he capitalized on the opportunity for monumental financial success. As a small business owner, you should look to the savvy director as a role model for envisioning what tomorrow can be and then exceeding even your own lofty expectations.
Success Handler Action: In which areas of your small business do you have the greatest potential for achieving incredible results? After you finish reading this E-Newsletter, use these questions to help open your mind to the possibilities that may be right in front of you:
~ What trends are you noticing of the overall economy in your community?
~ Where are the opportunities in your industry for being innovative?
~ Who are the suppliers you can turn to for insight on what your competitors are doing?
~ When was the last time you looked at your business from your customers' perspective?
~ How often are you asking your customers about their pain, problems and issues?
~ Which of your team members have the best relationships with your customers?
Not every great idea is clear right from the start. Often, big changes occur along the way to success. Lucas wrote four different drafts of the "Star Wars" screenplay, and made a last-minute decision to kill off Sir Alec Guinness' Ben Kenobi character. Unlike a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, in today's fast-changing business environment, it's essential to put together a team that is flexible enough to make the necessary adjustments to your plan on the fly.
Success Handler Action: Keeping your team engaged in executing your vision is an important part of your role as a small business owner. How long has it been since you gave them a motivational boost? Here are five ideas for inspiring everyone to continue giving their best:
1. Talk to them - Visit with each team member, and ask how you can help them grow.
2. Create a game - Set a short-term goal with a reward, and celebrate their achieving it.
3. Give - Offer to match a donation of up to $50 to your employees' favorite charities.
4. Give more - Volunteer to help with your employees' pet projects/causes.
5. Surprise everyone - Take your entire team to see "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith."
Whether "Episode III" was a hit or a miss, George Lucas is still be a billionaire. However, it's probably safe to say the man who envisioned the "Star Wars" franchise more than 30 years ago wanted to finish with his greatest achievement. As you think about the next steps for making your small business great, remember the wise words of the ancient Jedi Master, Yoda: "Try Not. Do, or do not. There is no try."
Copyright © 2005 by Success Handler, LLC. All rights reserved.
The Coach, David Handler, is the founder of Success Handler, (http://www.successhandler.com), and specializes in helping small business leaders, franchisees and franchisors find clarity and take action. He understands the challenges of running a business, because he's been there ? as a small business owner, franchisee, franchisor, corporate leader and trainer. Much like sports coaches, his coaching will show you how to compete on a level playing field in your industry.